Game of Thrones S4E3 “Breaker of Chains”
Last we left King’s Landing, the capital was in a state of chaos as King Joffrey Baratheon was lethally poisoned at his own wedding. While ending the episode on Joffrey’s death makes for an excellent ending to “The Lion and the Rose”, it also gives his death some extra distance for the season as the actual ramifications of the event weren’t dealt with in the same episode. Those ramifications start to become evident in this episode, “Breaker of Chains”. In the capital, things somehow go from bad to worse for Tyrion even though he starts the episode by getting arrested, Jaime and Cersei share an odd moment, and Tywin makes preparations for both the investigation of Joffrey’s poisoning and the coronation of his younger brother, Tommen. There’s also plenty of talking points outside the capital including Dany naming a champion, Arya and the Hound continuing their march to the Vale, Davos having a light bulb moment, and more action with the Night’s Watch than we’ve seen in a long while. Let’s get the ball rolling.
No better place to start than in King’s Landing so that’s what we’ll do. The episode actually picks up a few moments before the ending of “The Lion and the Rose”, more precisely, when Tyrion is detained for the murder of Joffrey. Instead of seeing that, we see Sansa going through with her escape with Ser Dontos Hollard in a race against the clock as Tywin orders they find Sansa and put the city on lock-down until she is found. In a rare instance of Tywin losing, Sansa and Dontos are able to make it to a rowboat Dontos had placed in an empty part of town. They row the boat to a large ship in the fog and when Sansa climbs the ladder she finds Littlefinger waiting for her. Dontos was apparently paid by Littlefinger to safely get Sansa here and he now awaits his pay. Thinking Dontos could snitch, Littlefinger instead has his men fire crossbows at Dontos, killing him. Littlefinger explains to a horrified Sansa that Dontos didn’t care for her, he was only following orders. He promises to keep her safe and to take her home. Given the current state of Winterfell and House Stark, “home” might not mean Winterfell. I suppose we’ll find out in a later episode but for now, Sansa is probably just glad her nightmarish stay in King’s Landing is at its end.
Back in the capital, the lock-down is called off and thoughts turn towards the funeral of Joffrey and the coronation of Tommen, Joffrey’s younger brother. Cersei is currently more concerned with the former, as she stands vigil over Joffrey at The Great Sept of Baelor. Tywin on the other hand, uses the opportunity to start teaching Tommen how to be a good king, showing where other kings went wrong, and not exactly taking it easy on Joffrey who he flat out calls a bad king. Tywin departs the Sept with Tommen while Jaime comes in to comfort Cersei. He clears the room of everyone and tries to comfort his sister but Cersei is in a pure revengeful state of mind, demanding Jaime kill Tyrion for this. Jaime doesn’t seem very receptive to the idea. By my guess, he doesn’t think Tyrion is responsible and is content to let the trial show the real truth. He flat out refuses to kill his brother and calls Cersei a hateful women before seemingly raping her. I say seemingly because it really doesn’t make sense for Jaime to do this considering he’s had a very long arc now of becoming a better person, and the book scene this is adapted from explicitly states the sex is consensual, while the scene in the show makes no attempt to do the same. For now I’m going to draw it up as a confusing scene and considering this is the final scene of the episode for the two of them, it’s perhaps best to wait until they show up again to pass final judgement on it.
Let’s turn our attention to something that’s is much less up for debate. Cersei wants Tyrion dead, I think we can all agree on that. Let’s check in on Tyrion. Podrick pays Tyrion a visit in his prison cell and tells Tyrion he will stand trial in a fortnight with his father, Mace Tyrell, and Prince Oberyn serving as the judges. He then asks if Tyrion has any witnesses he would like to call for the trial. Bronn is out because he’s under investigation for being a close friend of Tyrion, Varys is out because he’s already testifying for Cersei, and Sansa is out because she’s literally out of the capital. He then asks if he can at least talk to his brother Jaime and Pod says he’ll find out for him. Before Pod leaves, he admits that he had been offered a knighthood if he testified against Tyrion but refused the offer out of loyalty to Tyrion. Tyrion is upset at the news because he realizes this will put Pod’s life in great danger. He orders Pod to leave the capital for his own safety after asking for Jaime and Pod reluctantly agrees. They share a heartfelt goodbye and Tyrion admits to Pod that there has never been a more loyal squire. Hopefully someday the two can be reunited.
I alluded to the fact that Oberyn will be one of the judges in Tyrion’s trial a bit earlier. This is accomplished by Tywin who once again seizes an opprtunity to better his position. He offers Oberyn the opportunity to “talk” to the Mountain, the man who Oberyn is actively seeking revenge against, as well as a position in the small council if he agrees to be a judge. With those offers, Oberyn’s vote could easily be bought by Tywin and Tywin is also playing the long game. He notes that Dorne was the only province that was able to withstand the last Targaryen/dragon invasion and Dany is likely to make the next invasion of the same sort, very soon. Always two steps ahead is Tywin Lannister.
Speaking of Dany, she and her crew make their arrival to Meereen, where they are met by the slavers’ champion outside the city gates. After the champion mocks Dany, Jorah tells her that they are going to have to name their own champion to fight him if they want to get anywhere with Meereen. Daario is the least useful skilled fighter she has so it’s decided that he will undergo the task. Daario stands in place while the Meereen champion charges at him on horseback. When he gets close enough, Daario throws a throwing knife into the horse’s eye, knocking the champion off of it. Daario makes likewise quick work with the champion and returns the same insults back to the slavers. Dany announces to the slaves of Meereen of her previous successes in freeing the slaves of Astapor and Yunkai and asks if they want to be next. As a symbolic gesture, she has their newly made catapults launch broken slave collars inside the city, showing the slaves that they can be free if they accept her. The slavers look on nervously, wondering what lies ahead.
Back over in Westeros we go to the Riverlands and check in with Arya and The Hound who find themselves feeding their horses on someone’s property. When the farmer accuses them of trespassing, Arya takes an educated guess they were loyal to House Tully and gives the clever lie that Sandor is her father and he was badly injured while fighting for the Tully’s. The farmer is glad to help any loyal Tully bannermen and offers them his roof and food. Over an uncomfortable but hilarious dinner, Sandor takes a job offer to help around the farm and be a bodyguard for the next couple of weeks. The next day, Sandor ignores the guest right he was given and beats up the farmer and takes his silver, much to the disgust of Arya. Sandor tells her there’s no chance that they’d survive the winter and that dead men don’t need money. The two leave, although I don’t imagine Arya will warm up to Sandor anytime soon after this.
On Dragonstone, Davos is called before Stannis and Stannis has Davos read a letter informing of Joffrey’s death. Stannis believes that his death was a result of the leech ritual and is furious that Davos let Gendry go. He chastises Davos for not acquiring an army for him yet when that was the whole reason he was saved from execution. Davos suggests that they go to Essos and buy sellswords but Stannis tells him they’re broke. With no easy solution apparent, Davos leaves and heads over to Princess Shireen’s room to continue his reading lessons. When the book Shireen assigns him makes mention of Braavos, Davos has an idea. He asks Shireen to write a letter to the Iron Bank of Braavos in Stannis’ name, I assume to take out a loan. If they secure the gold, they can then buy some sellswords and get back to marching. Davos is running out of options to secure men for an army so let’s hope this works.
Let’s head up to the wall as things are proving to be quite busy up there. In a nearby village, Styr and the rest of the wildlings massacre the village and tell one boy, Olly, to send word to Castle Black that he’s on his way. Olly, not wanting to see Styr eat his parents, runs to Castle Black as fast as he can. The watch has a meeting mulling over what they should do. Most want to send men to retaliate but Thorne thinks that’s what the wildlings want them to do. He asks Jon for his opinion and he reluctantly agrees. The meeting is interrupted by a single horn call, returning rangers. Grenn and Dolorous Edd are the returning rangers and they’ve escaped from Craster’s Keep where the mutineers, Karl, Rast, and some others are still living. Jon is met with the realization that Mance’s army will pass by Craster’s Keep and the mutineers won’t stand a chance. When Mance has them beat, they’ll squeal and reveal that Castle Black has close to a hundred men, a huge contradiction of the thousand men the free folk think is guarding the wall due to Jon’s lie. If Mance realizes how badly he has them outnumbered, it will spell big trouble for the night’s watch. Jon insists that they send a group to Craster’s Keep to kill the mutineers before Mance gets to them. Jon is kind of responsible for this being a problem so I won’t be surprised if Thorne puts him in charge of the mission here.
Sam is concerned that Gilly may get raped at Castle Black so he finds lodging for her at Mole’s Town, the nearby brothel town. She’ll be cooking and cleaning but won’t be taking part in “other work”. Sam says this is for her own good but Gilly isn’t buying it.
Sam is mockingly called “Sam The Slayer” at Castle Black as no one believes he killed a white walker. Can you blame them though?
Margaery seems to have quite bad luck with husbands as she points out to Olena. Renly dead via assassination and now Joffrey via poisoning? If she ends up marrying Tommen, I’d tell him to watch out.
If Tyrion wasn’t in jail, I reckon he’d be able to figure out who poisoned Joffrey. Instead he’ll be relegated to preparing a defense with next to no allies at his disposal.
The scene with Tywin and Oberyn was certainly an interesting one. It went from Tywin accusing Oberyn of poisoning the king, to Oberyn accusing Tywin of ordering The Mountain to rape and kill Elia. Yet at the end of the day, they both walk away getting what they want.
Melisandre not being there for Stannis and Davos’ conversation was a bit unusual. Any scene in which the Lord of Light seems to have actually done something turns into Stannis and Melisandre telling Davos “told you so”. To Melisandre’s credit, if you want to believe the leech thing worked, two kings have died over the course of the five episodes that have followed the leech ritual.
Jack Gleeson is credited for his role of playing Joffrey’s corpse. That must be an easy pay day.
More Hound and Arya scenes please. Every moment they’re on screen together is television gold.
“Breaker of Chains” examines the instability Joffrey’s murder has provided in the capital as plot lines elsewhere begin to take shape.